As a dog owner, there is nothing worse than watching your best buddy grow old. As your dog ages, you begin to notice them slowing down, moving more stiffly, or even exhibiting pain as they reposition themselves or move too much.
Arthritis in large breed dogs is all too common, especially as they age. This is a painful condition in which your dog’s bones begin to rub together because of a deterioration of the cartilage (or cushioning) between their bones. Sadly, there is no cure for arthritis. Treatment mostly involves symptom management and attempts to slow the progression.
One treatment option that is suddenly catching everyone’s attention? Glucosamine for dogs. If you’ve got a dog that’s suffering from arthritis or joint pain, glucosamine could be a great option to try right away.
Let’s learn more about what glucosamine is, how it works, and it's effectiveness. I have a feeling you’ll be eager to start your suffering dog on glucosamine right away!
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance that is most often found in healthy cartilage. Its job is to signal your dog’s body to form and repair damaged cartilage. When dogs grow older, and especially in dogs with arthritis or other joint disorders, there simply isn’t enough naturally occurring glucosamine present to repair what little healthy cartilage is left. The result is continued deterioration of cartilage and worsening symptoms for your aging dog.
Luckily, glucosamine is available in the form of a supplement and is becoming a widely popular treatment option for dogs with extreme joint pain. Most often we see it used in dogs with arthritis, but it’s also effective for dogs that had joint surgery and hip dysplasia. Some owners use glucosamine supplements as a preventative measure and to improve general joint health in their dogs.
What’s interesting about glucosamine is that it is a supplement that is used to treat joint pain in humans, dogs, and other types of animals. There has been a lot of research done on the effectiveness of glucosamine on humans and some done on dogs as well.
In a 2012 study of glucosamine sulfate’s effectiveness on humans, it was found to provide “pain relief superior or equal to commonly used analgesic or NSAID drugs” (source). Not having to use a prescription alone might be reason enough to give it a try, right?
In research of glucosamine for dogs specifically from 2007, scientists found it to provide at least a “moderate level” of comfort (source). Again, any comfort is better than watching your dog suffer.
Anecdotally, pet owners and veterinarians alike have very positive things to say about glucosamine for dogs with joint pain and arthritis. People claim that starting this supplement has a significant impact on their dog’s quality of life, demeanor, and overall comfort.
A month’s supply is around $40 for dogs in the 50-100lb range, so with little risk of side effects and relatively low cost, most people and vets agree it's worth a shot.
When starting your dog on glucosamine it is best to discuss the decision with your vet. They can recommend dosages based on your pet’s weight and help you to choose a reputable brand. Typically, you will start your dog on what’s known as a “loading dosage” for a few weeks and then switch over to a “maintenance dosage”.
According to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network the recommended dosage of glucosamine in dogs is usually:
You should be able to see improvement in your dog within a few weeks which will let you know if it’s worth continuing the supplement. It’s also said that within a few weeks of stopping the supplement you will see symptoms of joint pain return. (source) This is another reason why there isn’t a lot of harm in giving this supplement a try and then discontinuing if your dog doesn’t have much of a response.
When you start your dog on glucosamine it’s important to get a product marketed specifically to dogs. Glucosamine is also available for humans, horses and other livestock, but you want to get a dog-specific formula.
Most often it is found in a chewable flavored tablet. Additionally, some senior dog foods are beginning to contain glucosamine in their ingredients, so this is another route to discuss with your vet.
The glucosamine used in most supplements for dogs is derived from shellfish. For this reason, if your dog has a food allergy to shellfish, they may be more at risk for an adverse reaction. Food allergies in dogs usually involve extreme itching, diarrhea, vomiting, or other GI issues (source).
Aside from that, the side effects of glucosamine for dogs are pretty minimal but may include (source):
If you have an older dog that has diagnosed arthritis or is showing symptoms of arthritis, glucosamine could be a great option. The first step is a trip to the vet to discuss this treatment option and dosage with them. For many dogs, it is a wonderful and effective option.
To quickly summarize the benefits of glucosamine for your dog:
So if you have an older dog that you want to help make more comfortable and live a longer, happier life, why not give glucosamine a try.
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